In London

So here I am, in London, UK.

The journey took a bit more time than planned.  There were some heavy thunderstorm over Larnaca airport, so we had to stay on the ground.  Overall we spent a bit more than one hour in the airplane before the skies finally cleared enough for us to fly through.

The flight itself was pretty good.  Cyprus airways flight attendants were very nice and kept bringing us beers just when we needed them.  Plus the food was quite good – some sort of marinated chicken with rice, salad, and the usual stuff.  The only thing that could have been better – the movies.  I’ve watched “My Mom’s New Boyfriend” and “Journey to the Center of the Earth” and both of them were crap.  Better than nothing though.

Once in London, we took the tube from the airport to the center of the city and then walked a bit.  Risking to sound too grumpy, the tube navigation could have been better.  Colors and branch names are all fine, but they shouldn’t be used when splits occur – that makes it quite confusing.  Plus, anything except a straight line and a circle should be forbidden from the map.  Otherwise people have to rotate the map uncontrollably, trying to find some sense in it.  Anyway, that’s not a big issue.   The trains themselves are nice – clean, comfy (soft seats and elbow support), and technologically equipped (voice, displays, and such).

The check-in to the Hilton Olympia Hotel was fast and usual.  Surprisingly, they have a choice of smoking and non-smoking rooms.  The hotel itself is a bit dated, with oldish smells and a few details that reveal that it didn’t have a rennovation for quite a while.  Rooms are the smallest from all the hotels that I’ve seen.  But somewhat cozy.  Overall feels like a good 3 star hotel in Limassol.  But in fact it’s 4 stars.  Or so I believe.

Internet connection at the hotel is charged at extra – 15 GBP / day.  Once purchased, Ethernet connection is available in the room and credentials for wireless connection in the lobby are given.  So far I haven’t tried the wireless yet, but the Ethernte at the room passes the speed test with 3.5 Mbps up and 3.5 Mbps down.  And feels pretty fast too.  But that might be due to lower latency here in London than what I am used to in Limassol.

That’s about it for today.  I am off to bed to catch a few hours of sleep before tomorrow’s main event.

Journey to the Center of the Earth

Journey to the center of the earth

Watched “Journey to the Center of the Earth” on the plane’s tiny LCD screen, with really horrible headphones.  And wasn’t impressed at all.  Yeah, maybe I missed a whole lot of special effects, but the movie still sucked.  It felt like a really cheap attempt to recreate one of the Brendan Fraser action-adventure movies.  They’ve got Brendan, but failed at everything else.

5 out of 10

My Mom’s New Boyfriend

Watched “My Mom’s New Boyfriend” (aka “Homeland Security) on the plane.  The film does not deserve much.  It couldn’t be spoiled by tiny LCD screen with really poor image quality and the most horrible headphones that I ever plugged into my ears.  The story is simplistic and predictable.  Most of the dialogs are horrible and were only saved by the actors themselves.  There was no high or low point in the film – it was all on the same level, and that level was pretty low.  It’s a pity to see both Antonio Banderas and Meg Ryan in a film like this.

5 out of 10.

PHP UK Conference 2009, here we come!

All the stars have aligned properly for yet another conference visit.  This time I am going with two colleagues to London, UK.  We are attending PHP UK Conference 2009.  It’s my first visit to UK, and I wont’ have much time around, but if you have any suggestions on what to see, where to go, or if you want to meet for beer, let me know.  We are arriving today around 21:00 and flying back early Sunday morning.

Tweets, blog posts, and pictures are coming soon.

House M.D.

House M.D.

It’s my second week now of being hooked to “House M.D.” series.

Yes, I’ve been warned a few times that it is very addictive, and yet I decided to watch a couple of episodes.  Every day now I am staying late and waking up early just to see yet another episode.   The surprising thing is that I tought I’d get bored of it pretty soon – stories in every episode are very similar, characters behave in the same way, and jokes follow the same pattern.  However there is something slightly different about every episode that makes me want to see the next one.

So far, I am up to episode 11 of the 3rd season.  First season was very introductory and fun, except for that episode where Dr.House explains what happened his leg.  That episode alone was an excellent movie in itself, even if just 45 minutes long.  Second season was a bit more boring.  Third season is way more exciting, with this whole cop drama.

Also, I am sort of glad that I have the Russian version of the series.  I can hear how bad the translation is and that it misses quite a bit, but listening to all that terminology in English would really bore me to death.  I can’t undertand that stuff in Russian, but at least I can somewhat guess of the whereabouts.

Anyway, be warned that the series are very addictive and if you get hooked, you’ll spend a lot of time watching it – 6 seasons x 24 episodes x 45 minutes per episode adds up to a lot of time.  But if it happens that you try it and like it, you’ll have quite a bit to enjoy.  Make up your own mind.

Another look at KDE 4

Last time I wrote about KDE 4, I said that it wasn’t very usable for me.  Recenlty, the much praised upgrade to KDE 4.2 became available via Fedora updates.  So I got it and switched to KDE for a couple of days.

What can I say?  Quite an improvement indeed.  Mostly stable, with only a few issues, which are nicely balanced out by nice desktop effects, overall graphics, and plasmoids.  A few things moved around and I had to look for them (such as keyboard shortcuts for switching between desktops), but overall it was a pleasant experience.

Why am I back to Gnome for now?  Because of the following:

  • couldn’t manage to make KDE 4.2 work properly with two monitors (major issue)
  • got a bit annoyed by KDE 4.2 not waking up properly from suspend  (not always, but often enough)
  • also got annoyed by it not always coming back properly from screensaver mode
  • couldn’t find graphical configuration for power managment (my laptop kept suspending when idle for 5 minutes with no power plugged in)
  • a few other minor things here and there

I’m sure I’ll be back to KDE very soon.  The progress between KDE 4 and KDE 4.2 is huge and if it goes like this, then I won’t have to wait long.

A better world with multiple inboxes in Gmail

Google has recently added a super mega cool feature to Gmail – multiple inboxes.  For me, it was an instant boost in productivity and huge improvement in the way I handle email. However, while I was sharing my excitement with friends and co-workers, I’ve received quite a few cold looks and “so what?”s.

Multiple inboxes in Gmail

So, what’s so cool about multiple inboxes?  Here is how I enjoy them so far.

I’ve setup forwarding on all my email accounts so that all messages end up in the single Gmail account of mine.  This means that I have the same mailbox for personal emails, work emails, blog related emails, spam, and so on and so forth.  All that email is handled with a multitude of labels and filters.  And overall it works pretty well.

However, there was a little annoyance in my daily routine.  As part of my job I have to review and monitor Subversion commits from several programmers that work in our office.  Commit notifications come to me in the form of emails, and since they are rather high priority, they are labeled automatically, but not archived.  They stay in the main inbox until I read and archive them manually.  Also, as part of my consulting work for another company, I have to go through their commits as well.  These too are labeled separately, but end up in the main inbox.  And, additionally, I am using Gmail as a task manager for things that should be done eventually.  For that I have emails with tasks, labeled separately, and starred.   Not a huge mess, but not the ideal solution, especially when it mixes up with direct messages from work and friends.

Once Gmail got the multiple inboxes feature, I modified my filters to archive commit messages from both companies automatically (but not mark them as read).  Then I created three additional inboxes – one for tasks, and two for commit messages.  The tasks inbox lists all starred messages with a certain label.  Commit inboxes list messages with labels for each company.  Now I have my main inbox for direct messages from friends and work, and the rest of the things that I need to keep an eye on are right there, in front of me, but re-organized a bit to give me some breathing room.
With this new feature I can keep my main inbox message count much closer to zero, while still have some lose ends in case I need to argue over a commit or keep a few more things on the task list.  Excellento!

Big thanks to Gmail team – well done.

Frost / Nixon

Frost / Nixon

A few days ago I went to see “Frost / Nixon“.   A movie with the one of the USA presidents in the title?  Just a few days since the whole world has watched the most hyped up inauguration of the USA president in history?  And just a few days since I’ve watched another political movie about yet another predisent of the USA – “W.“?  Yes, of course.  Plus there was a surprisingly high rating over at IMDB.

And it happens to be a really good movie.  I’m a total loser when it comes to history, so I can’t really say how accurate the film is, but from the movies point of view it was excellent.  I really liked the simplicity of the overall setup – it felt like everything happened in the single room, even though it is not true.  It also felt like there were only two people in the film, even though that wasn’t true either.  It felt like there was nothing else, even though that again wasn’t true.  It’s just that type of a movie which has a lot of tiny details which are unnoticable on their own, but which build up the film to be what it is.

Another thing which I thought was done really well, was the drama.  A big man with the weight of his mistakes and, seemingly, the whole country pointing fingers at him – yet resistent to accept his guilt, finding ways to see everything from other perspective, however feeling the burden deep inside.  And then another man, much smaller one, but with his head high due to all the publicity and success around him.  And like they say in the film, there is this moment in the ring where a challenger receives the first punch from the title holder and suddenly, in split second, understands the seriousness of the situation.  This was built up and shown very well.

As noted above – tonnes of work went into making of this film and the result is great.  Because of all the acting, camera work, light, make-up, sound work, etc, etc, etc this film is one of those fresh breezes even though it has an “oldish” touch to it.

5 stars.  Recommended, even if you are not into politics.

The Spirit

The Spirit

The trailer for “The Spirit” was really nice and I wanted to see the movie.  However, when I checked IMDB page and saw the 5.something rating, I got worried.  There are many examples when my personal rating differs a lot from the IMDB one, but 5.something is always a cautious sign.

And since there wasn’t much else to see, I still went for it.  Unfortunately, this time IMDB was quite right.  The film feels like a leftover from “Sin City”.  There is nothing original about it.  Nothing much to enjoy. And, honestly, nothing much to see in it.  Most of the time is spent in silly dialogues and monologues.  And these are so silly that they actually harm the good acting that could have been done.
The only scene to remember is the one with Samuel Jackson dressed as a German nazi, and Scarlett Johansson helping him out.  Everything is else is boring, overdone, and unoriginal.

3 stars it is.